Conspiracy Theory in America

University of Texas Press, 15 .. 2013 - 260 ˹

Ever since the Warren Commission concluded that a lone gunman assassinated President John F. Kennedy, people who doubt that finding have been widely dismissed as conspiracy theorists, despite credible evidence that right-wing elements in the CIA, FBI, and Secret Serviceand possibly even senior government officialswere also involved. Why has suspicion of criminal wrongdoing at the highest levels of government been rejected out-of-hand as paranoid thinking akin to superstition?

Conspiracy Theory in America investigates how the Founders hard-nosed realism about the likelihood of elite political misconductarticulated in the Declaration of Independencehas been replaced by todays blanket condemnation of conspiracy beliefs as ludicrous by definition. Lance deHaven-Smith reveals that the term conspiracy theory entered the American lexicon of political speech to deflect criticism of the Warren Commission and traces it back to a CIA propaganda campaign to discredit doubters of the commissions report. He asks tough questions and connects the dots among five decades worth of suspicious events, including the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, the attempted assassinations of George Wallace and Ronald Reagan, the crimes of Watergate, the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages deal, the disputed presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, the major defense failure of 9/11, and the subsequent anthrax letter attacks.

Sure to spark intense debate about the truthfulness and trustworthiness of our government, Conspiracy Theory in America offers a powerful reminder that a suspicious, even radically suspicious, attitude toward government is crucial to maintaining our democracy.


HighCrime Blind
1 The ConspiracyTheory Label
2 The American Tradition of Conspiracy Belief
3 Conspiracy Denial in the Social Sciences
4 The ConspiracyTheory Conspiracy
5 State Crimes against Democracy
6 Restoring American Democracy
CIA Dispatch 1035960

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LANCE DEHAVEN-SMITH Tallahassee, Florida DeHaven-Smith is Professor in the Reubin OD. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. A former President of the Florida Political Science Association, deHaven-Smith is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Battle for Florida, which analyzes the disputed 2000 presidential election. DeHaven-Smith has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CBS Nightly News with Dan Rather, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and other national TV and radio shows.